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Veritas Plane Review - Bevel-Up Smoother

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Alf

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At last, the long-awaited dedicated bevel-up smoothing plane. I could go into a eulogies on what a change in thinking this plane represents, the daring of marketing a bevel up plane with a low angle bed specifically with a high angle blade, the new ground being trod and so forth. But I‘ll leave that to Derek ‘cos he‘s better at it than I am. :wink: Instead let’s cut to the chase and do the review shall we? :D



Vital statistics first; 270mm/10 ½” long overall and 79mm/3 1/8" at its widest point and weighing in at a toe-crunching 2200g/4lbs 14oz, this plane is heavy. It’s a lot of ductile iron in a relatively small space; heck, the sides are as thick as 10mm in some places. :shock: Essentially it’s a bevel-up #4½, and designated the #164½H. The familiar “Norris” style adjuster and set screws are present of course, and Bubinga handles complete the look. The blade is 2 ¼” wide, 3/16th thick A2 steel, interchangeable with that of the Low Angle Jack. In this case it comes provided with a 38° bevel, which coupled with the 12° bedding angle gives an effective pitch of 50°, or York Pitch. Not so coincidentally, a long time preferred choice of pitch for work in hardwoods. I was also sent a blade with a 50° bevel angle to try, to give an effective pitch of 62°; such a high angle being new territory for me. Some of the technical details and so forth can be found on the product page here.



As far as appearance goes, well I’m virtually de-sensitised to them now. Suffice to say it looks like it means business, but it probably wouldn’t be allowed into the Royal Enclosure at Ascot in case it started a fight…


I know there are a lot of #4½’s out there, so I thought a comparison might be helpful. :whistle:

The majority of surfaces are unmachined, black painted “pebbledash”. This is apparently a “cosmetic second”, which may explain why the finish is a bit more pebbly than usual? Only two “wings”, where the set screws are located, are machined on the outside of the sides, and they, the sole and the blade bed are all as finely machined as we’ve come to expect. A new feature is the lever cap. The design’s been tweaked slightly, and it looks a good deal less severe and quite, well, stylish. I know, I was shocked too… :wink:



The MkII rear tote is in evidence again, as is the mushroom-shaped front knob just like on the jack. The observant amongst you will have noticed the coffin-ish shape and, coupled with the largely unmachined sides, will have deduced this plane is not designed or suitable for shooting board work.


Well I don't know; would you call that coffin-shaped?

So joy of joys, I needn’t get out my square and pretend I can tell if the sides are at 90° to the sole or not! I like it already… :D The sole seems to be flat enough to do its job too, but I daresay the Amalgamated Union of Fettlers and Sole Flatteners would feel they’d achieved something if they rubbed it over some fine silk or similar :roll:

Removing and replacing the blade is as before; simplicity itself. Loosen the lever cap, remove, hoick the blade off the adjuster and behold, you’ve got a big hunk of steel to hone. I know people have complained of having trouble with the adjusters sticking in the blade and coming away with it still attached to the iron on other Veritas planes, but this is the first time I’ve had the problem myself. It’s no big deal but just slightly irritating. I imagine it’ll improve with use and quite honestly, I sooner it was a snug fit than loose. The blade itself, and the additional 50° one, have the usual finely ground finish and the backs took little time to polish. The bevels, particularly on the 38° blade, I had more trouble with. I decided to be careful to preserve the exact angles, and with those pesky secondary bevels already present, I resorted to using the honing guide. :roll: There’s instruction on how to set up the MkI Veritas guide to create the 38° angle, which is easily adapted for the MkII, and getting the right angle was easy. However I like a camber on my blades, and it gave me no end of trouble to get the right amount to allow for the low bedding angle - either too much or too little time and time again. :roll: However this isn’t a review of the honing guide, and I managed it eventually, but I dunno, somehow the blade just doesn’t feel right yet. I think it might be one of those blades than needs a few honings to work it in. No big deal, and it may well just be me and honing guides, but I reckon it’s as well to mention it as I have a feeling it might have affected the results I got on some woods.

Replacing the blade is simply a case of dropping it onto the adjuster and snugging up the lever cap; it doesn’t need much pressure to hold the blade firmly. As on the jack, the adjustable mouth has a brass stop to prevent edge dinging accidents <wince> and for fine tuning the mouth size.



Getting a fine mouth is essential for a lot of smoothing work, so it’s nice to be able to hold the plane on its tail, loosen the front knob and tweak the brass stop while allowing gravity to move the toe piece in against the stop; all of which is such a “no-brainer” as to leave plenty of attention spare to keep an eye on the opening. Setting the mouth fine is an absolute doddle in fact. The set screws to ensure all lateral movement of the adjuster is just that, and not sideways, are quite deeply set on this plane. I had to file down my small flared tip screwdriver to get it to go deep enough, but once I had it was simplicity itself to set them. A minor niggle was having to tweak them out a little further when I swapped in the 50° blade. I’ve noticed on the jack that the two blades I have aren’t quite the same width too. It’s a minute difference, but just enough to cause one blade to foul the set screws when they’re set for the other. One of these days I might actually do something about it I suppose, but the fact I haven’t shows how minor an issue it really is. As usual, the depth adjustment is a positive pleasure to use; fine, accurate and with less than a ¼ turn of backlash.

So how does it feel? Well we’ll discreetly side-step the rear tote for a start =; , although I'm pleased to report there seems to be plenty of room for your hand between it and the adjuster. The front knob is just as pleasant on this plane as on the jack. The mushroom shape really lends itself to a naturally scooping on the fingers under the cap when lifting the plane at the end of the stroke, and the large top area provides plenty of space for the hand to rest on during the cut. I would say “apply pressure” rather than “rest“, but there’s really no need to do so with this plane because of the weight. Despite that though, I wasn’t at all conscious that I was heaving about a large chunk of iron while I was doing it. Only when I stopped did I become aware of a slight ache in my forearm. I really, really, need to look into this weight training thing… 8-[


A gratuitous shot to break up the text a bit…

I used extremely unscientific methods to gauge whereabouts the balance point was and it seems to be just forrard of the middle, which probably accounts for why it doesn’t feel too heavy to move about; because it‘s fairly balanced. It certainly sits into the start of the cut at the end of the board with considerable authority, and I didn’t have to think about applying more pressure at the toe to any great degree. What puzzled me at first is that I use a L-N #4½ which is heavier, but it doesn’t feel nearly as weighty in the cut. It doesn’t sit on the board like a limpet in the same way this plane does. Then it dawned on me that this is what Rob’s been going on about concerning the centre of gravity. The COG on this plane is incredibly low, and it makes a pile of difference. I was slightly concerned the length might be an issue, possibly making it less manoeuvrable than is desirable in a high class smoother. Once again, that limpet-like tendency to sit on the board made spinning the plane round on a knot or area of swirly grain amazingly easy; if you’re not having to worry about keeping the plane from skipping out of the cut you can move your hands round on the totes to adjust the plane to the angle you want without any problems. I did just that and the length just wasn’t an issue at all.

In order to give the abilities of this plane, and both pitch blades, a bit of a test, I dug about in my off-cuts and raided my turning blank stash for some noxious woods. I also couldn’t resist the easiest test of all; tissue paper from Sycamore. :D The York pitch dealt with that easily.



A piece of rather dry and nasty London Plane or Lacewood also proved to be no problem.



But fluffy shavings are just the by-product. I then tried some Bubinga and Padauk. The 38° blade dealt with the Bubinga easily, and most of the Padauk, but one area of the latter stubbornly insisted on still tearing out. Switch to the 50° blade and it was gone in moments. I have a feeling a freshly sharpened 38° iron might have coped okay as well, but not having much luck with sharpening as I was, I went for the easier option. :oops: A quick polish up and you can, I hope, see the results.


Left: Padauk, right: Bubinga

Finally I tried a real pig of a piece of wood. Educated guesses identify it as Bocote, but all sources say that’s easy to work with hand tools. Well this piece isn’t. It tears out at the drop of a hat, and tears out deeply what’s more. Long, tedious sessions of scraping have proved to be the only answer, and that’s no fun when you have a such deep tear out to remove. First up I tried the 38° blade, and it looked to be going well until “crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrch”, Tear Out City, Arizona. You know why they call it tear out, don’t you? ‘Cos that’s what you do to your hair when that happens… So wanna play hard ball eh? I swapped in the 50° blade and had at it, the varmit. Ooo, that was much better. I was able to get very close to removing all the tear out with it, leaving only some small, shallow, areas still to scrape. Now that may sound so-so, but trust me, this is a minor miracle. This piece of wood is the stinkiest piece I’ve ever come across and this is the best result I’ve had from a plane by leaps and bounds. Vunderbar! Of course it’s so nasty a piece of wood it won’t let me get a decent shot of the difference either, so use your imagination… :roll:

Right then, the verdict. Well this plane had a lot of expectations to live up to; its larger brother, Jack, really blew me away and turned me into a bevel-up bore overnight (apologies), and this plane has been much looked forward to in consequence. To be honest there was always going to be a risk of anti-climax. It’s held its own though, and very creditably. A good deal of its features are the same as the jack, so it could hardly fail in those respects as far as I’m concerned, but the size and balance are all its own and Veritas have carried it off very well indeed. Some people may feel the inability to use it for shooting is a problem, but you wouldn’t say that about a coffin-shaped infill, so why should it be an issue with this plane? The biggest problem it’ll have is getting people to stop thinking of low bedding angles and bevel-up planes solely in terms of end grain; once that hurdle of perception is cleared, I think the benefits of easy adjustment, thick blade, solid bedding, low centre of gravity and relatively low price will win it a lot of fans. I’ve not been exposed to finely tuned infills and such, but I have a hunch it’d compare very favourably with a lot of them, and beat most of them hands down for ease of adjustment. For many of us, I think it’s abilities would comfortably exceed what we actually needed 99% of the time, but there’s always that 1% when you need to bring out the big guns. And anyway, I see nothing wrong with driving an E-type to do the weekly shop, do you? :wink: Only in this case, it's a BUS... <groan> :lol:

Bevel-Up Smoother £145 or $175 in 'Murrican

NB: In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that in this case Lee Valley have very kindly said I can keep this review plane, for which many thanks. As always, I have made every effort to not let this affect my review, and I hope this is self-evident, but you, the reader, will always be the final judge.
 

ydb1md

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Awesome review Alf! Thanks for getting it up so quickly.

The photos of the padauk and bubinga look brilliant!

I think that I can almost dismiss with my use of sandpaper completely!
 

ydb1md

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Alf":24xuu03t said:
The MkII rear tote is in evidence again, as is the mushroom-shaped front knob just like on the jack. . . .

Well we’ll discreetly side-step the rear tote for a start =; , although I'm pleased to report there seems to be plenty of room for your hand between it and the adjuster.
Will there be a separate review of the revised tote? :wink:

I haven't been brave enough to attempt shaping my LV totes. Does anyone have any tuning tips to improve their comfort?
 

Martin Brown

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UK price is £145. I will post stock availability in the next couple of days.

The one on my desk (for only a few minutes) is on it's way to Alan Holtham.
 

MikeW

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Well done, Alf.

Thank you for the review. I became a believer in LA planes a bit back after I honed a steep secondary bevel on my LV LA smoother. And being able to just swap blades to change for wood types was good enough reason then.

Now with a few LV LA planes being able to share a set of blades...coming after realizing I had more than enough planes to do my work...Oh resolve, where art thou. Gone, that's where.
 

Alf

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Thanks for that, Martin; I've updated the review. :)

ydb1md":1ym548i4 said:
Will there be a separate review of the revised tote? :wink:
Er, no? :p I'll use Lyn's reason; I had input into the style of the MkII, so it doesn't seem right. The fact they didn't go with half the things I liked is neither here nor there. :(

ydb1md":1ym548i4 said:
I haven't been brave enough to attempt shaping my LV totes. Does anyone have any tuning tips to improve their comfort?
Remove the bits you don't want without rasping through to the bolts. :wink: Here's mine as tweaked so far:



And yes, I picked up the wrong colour of shellac. #-o No matter, I shall probably tweak it further yet. Not much different, is it? No, well there's not much option if you don't want the bolts to see daylight unfortunately. :( I've also tried something else in the last few days, but I'm not quite ready to go public with it yet. Even then I'm not sure I'd actually recommend it, unless you like Extreme Hole Drilling as a high stress sport... :shock:

Cheers, Alf
 

bugbear

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Amalgamated Union of Fettlers and Sole Flatteners
I don't know who you mean :whistle:

Yet another witty and detailed review. People are starting to expect no less.

BugBear
 
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Just wunnerful, Alf. Now, tell me where I can get one of these for 175 Murican bucks :lol:
 
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How did my currency get switched to Canadian without me noticing :?: :oops:

This has got to be one of the best plane bargains around. It will be my first new tool purchase after I move to the new place.
 

Alf

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Ahhhh, that's what you meant... I went back and checked the price, and no, that wasn't it. Then I wondered if I'd switched to Canadian by mistake, but that would have been a higher figure. That pesky currency switch eh? Still, you've now got an instant reduction in price sort of thing. :lol:

Cheers, Alf
 

Philly

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Hoo, hoo!!
Nice review Alf-it certainly sounds like a cracking plane. I must say I fell in love with the LA smoother (even though the front knob is useless for my grip)-a heavier version with a different front knob is just what the doctor ordered!!
When are you expecting them in Martin????
Thanks again for the timely review,
Philly :D
 

ydb1md

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Philly":3pylsgxb said:
I must say I fell in love with the LA smoother (even though the front knob is useless for my grip Philly :D
I ordered a LA jack-style knob for my LA smoother because I didn't like the little knob it came with. The lower, wider mushroom is much more comfortable.

As an additional benefit, all of my LV planes now share a family resemblence. :)
 

ydb1md

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Philly,

I ordered it direct from Lee Valley. Although, I do all of my ordering directly from them. I talked to their customer service dept first and they included it in my next order, to save me on shipping.
 

Noel

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Hi Philly, think Dave is Stateside.....Pay attention in future.........

Kindest Regards

Noel
 

Philly

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Noel
Ah! Yup, you're right-forgot you lived Stateside Dave :oops:
Darn Internet-makes it feel like you all live down the road......... :lol:
Philly :D
 

Neil

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Excellent review once again, Alf - and quick work too!

Off I go to dream about getting one for $175 :cry:

Cheers,
Neil
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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Tremendous review, as usual Alf. You constantly raise the bar.

My smoother and scrub arrived today (Friday), just in time for a weekend play :D . I see what you mean about the weights of these planes - really substantial. I shall take a different tack to you in my reviews and, hopefully, write something that complements your efforts.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 
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